Top Cyber Security Career Paths

Is Cyber Security a Good Career?

It’s a great time to have a Cyber Security Career. The BLS found it is one of the fastest growing fields. In fact, it’s projected to grow at a 28% rate. It’s exciting news because that rate stands on a market that held 100K jobs for 2016. That’s for only one prime Cyber Security position – Information Security Analyst. Imagine the possibilities for an entire field of such positions!

Part of the job growth is due to demand. The rise of cyber crime has grown that demand. In fact, the DHS, found   the risk of cyber theft and fraud grows as cultures interconnect. Cyber criminals use advanced and scalable tools to breach user privacy. This is shown by a study by Privacy Rights Clearing House. This study shows that two billion data records were compromised in 2017. Cyber crime also breached more than 4.5 billion records in the first half of 2018 alone. Concerned about viruses? Hackers create four new malware samples every second. 

A bachelor’s degree holder could enter the work force as an Info Sec Analyst. This is prime territory for Cyber Security careers. The most oft cited stats about the amazing growth in Cyber Security refer to this job. It’s packed with potential.

Higher level jobs for a Masters and PhD holder include Information Research Scientists and Systems Managers. These are careers with six figure salaries and lots of clout. Then there’s the top echelon of Cyber Security careers. For these, one needs a combo of advanced education and years of experience. Jobs like Certified Information Systems Security Officer (CISSO) are C suite. That means a big salary but also a lot of responsibility. So, it makes sense that these jobs have hardcore requirements. After all, the bottom line of the organization lies with these people.

How to Start a Career in Cyber Security

The first step toward a Cyber Security career is assessment. Figure out where you stand and what degree program works best. Perhaps you finished high school and aren’t sure about committing to college. In that case you may want to consider an Associate degree or certification program. If you know you want a bachelor’s program, start with a search for Cyber Security programs. Because it’s not a traditional field, you don’t have to take a classic route to a Cyber Security Career. For instance, some students go straight for certifications. 

Top 5 Certifications

The IT field holds certifications in high esteem. This is especially true for those specializing in security. Certifications validates your skills. It’s a shortcut that shows an employer you’re qualified and well trained. There’s no necessary order for getting certified. But, these five certifications are often requested by employers. So, it may be smart to start with them.

  1. CEH: Certified Ethical Hacker – Crucial for those set on an Ethical Hacker career. These jobs are a subset in the Cyber Security field but also a critical factor in the security paradigm.
  2. CISM: Certified Information Security Manager – Management level certification. You need experience in the position to sit for his four-hour exam. Great springboard for promotion opportunities.
  3. CompTIA Security+ – Industry standard for the essentials in any Cyber Security career. It’s two exams. But it’s the critical starting point for certification. So, take it when you’re ready to job search.
  4. CISSP: Certified Information Systems Security Professional. – Global and the most popular IT certification for almost 30 years. International Data Corporation (IDC) did a study. Data shows those with CISSP get pay hikes at a higher rate than those without certification.
  5. GSEC: GIAC Security Essentials – This back to basics certification covers IT forensics and security. It’s foundational. So, consider this a resume booster for the start of a Cyber Security career.

Types of Cyber Security Jobs

Cyber Security degree holders are lucky. They have a bounty of career choices. Their skills are in high demand. It’s a matter of picking a job that suits your interests and goals. Here are some of the potential positions ahead.

  • Ethical Hacker

    A CEH looks for weakness in a computer system. They are a hacker with a conscience. That means they need to think like a malicious hacker. So, they need outlaw brand knowledge and tools. It’s the only way to protect a system from those with malicious intent. Lawful and legitimate actions are an essential part of this job, though. So, it’s a position with thoughtful consideration. This isn’t any typical technical computer programmer at work.

    An entry level CEH works in a similar way to a Web Developer or Computer Programmer. So, those job salaries may give a range for what a Certified Ethical Hacker might make. But there isn’t hard salary data for this newbie career as of this writing. It’s also more specialized than those positions. Keep that in mind.


  • Penetration Tester

    These testers and White Hat Hackers work together. In fact, they share the same goals. Pen testing is one of the many tools in an Ethical Hackers crucial set.

    Pen Testing pokes at vulnerabilities like a hacker. Their techniques find which areas of a network have holes. They do this to identify methods and windows of entry a hacker could exploit. That way an organization knows where and how they need to address weak spots. A Pen Tester also looks for passive threats like security practice and policy flaws.


  • IT Auditor

    An IT Auditor works like a detective. They discover and investigate issues in computer systems. This job starts with CISA certification. That’s because it’s specific to IT auditing. It delves IT security, auditing, and risk management. Notice that none of these domains fixes the problems. IT Auditing is about assessment.

    This work identifies challenges and determines their impact. They don’t resolve the issue. So, a keen eye for evaluation is an important part of this career. Auditors report these detailed observations with careful consideration. In fact, this report is the crux of their work. Get ready to keep detailed records in an IT Auditor career.


  • Computer Forensics Investigator

    A Computer Forensics Analyst identifies an issue and discovers the origin. In a hack situation, they also recover compromised data. Much like other types of forensics, Computer Forensics Investigators help determine the facts in a crisis. They work as part of a legal investigation.

    So, a Computer Forensics Analyst needs both Cyber Security and criminal justice training. The CFCE certification is a perfect example of this. Validation as a Certified Forensic Computer Examiner (CFCE) meets both qualifications.

  • Information Security Analyst

    Many companies have an IT department led by an Information Security Analyst. They protect the organization’s networks. That means prevention with software, firewalls, and encryption programs. It’s also reaction when a breach occurs. These analysts write up reports to document challenges.

    These analysts also stay on top of the latest IT tech and trends to keep their company up to date. They set and maintain standards and practices for employees to keep information safe. Many also conduct test cases. That means trying out a “what if” scenario to play out what might happen in the case of a hack or breach. Then they can use that learning to improve their systems even more.


  • Cyber Security Engineer

    A Cyber Security Engineer creates computer security procedures and software systems. They tailor these intrusion detection and prevention tools to their organization. One of their major responsibilities is to handle technical issues for all computer security matters. So, they must have exceptional incident-response skills. Security Engineers also need a high level of computer forensics competence.

    They work with other engineers and IT to keep company computer systems efficient.


  • Network Security Administrators

    These pros design and install a network security policy across the network. They have skills in threats and vulnerabilities, as well as protection strategies. Usually they collaborate with engineers to ensure network-wide security.

    Responsibilities for this position may include identifying network vulnerabilities, designing and managing network protection procedures and policies, and installing and configuring software and tools.


  • Chief Information Officer

    This is a top position in Cyber Security jobs. We’re talking C-suite. That means Chief Information Officer, and Chief Technology Officer. It’s the cream of the corporate crop. That means great opportunity as well as responsibility. The bottom line sits in your lap.

    Some items on a CISSO to do list may include orchestrating upgrades for company systems. They direct the organization’s hardware and software needs. In fact, their network security’s in their hands. Not only that, they handle personnel, budgets, vendors and more. It’s the biggest of the big jobs.


  • Cryptographer

    A cryptographer is someone who uses codes and ciphers to keep information safe. These pros often work in the cyber security field. So, they protect data and messages that are stored and sent using technology. 

    Cryptographers use knowledge from a few different fields. These include math, computer science, and information security. And, these pros may work in different industries. Banking, government, the military, and communications are just a few areas where sensitive info needs to be protected. So, employers in these areas may hire workers who know cryptography.